Sermon Notes (Page 10)

“Judging Outcasts” John 7:53-8:11

For the past few weeks, I have enjoyed preparing the sermons in the “Where Would Jesus Go?” series. The intentional focus on how Jesus related to the outcasts of his day has hopefully shed some light on how we might follow Jesus more closely, which becomes the purpose for the season of Lent. We have also intentionally highlighted community ministries in which anyone can be involved.
As a result of a recent meeting of the ministers in downtown Madison, I have invited pastors of every church in Morgan County to a meeting this afternoon in our Fellowship Hall to learn of how others can participate in The Caring Place, Madison Meal on Main and the Ecumenical Benevolence Fund. All of these serve the entire county; I hope that more churches will actively participate and also realize that these ministries are available to their members. We can always do more together than we can accomplish alone. “One Morgan” shouldn’t only be a slogan for our school system; I hope that one day “One Morgan” will also represent the Christan Community of Morgan County.

 

“Holy and Unholy Recognitions” Luke 7:36-50

My Dad had many colorful sayings, some of which were original, and most of those should not be shared in a church Sanctuary. As teenagers, we regularly heard him offer this saying, which was not original to him, “If you lay down with the dogs, you will get up with fleas.” Have you heard that? My Dad was addressing the company his children were keeping. The lesson was that the people with whom you associate have an influence on you.
Jesus didn’t necessarily hold to my Dad’s parental counsel. Jesus had a reputation of laying down with many different kinds of dogs, associating with multiple kinds of people, yet we also know that he did not sin. Jesus ate with the sinners; some were tax collectors, drunks, prostitutes, but he also ate with other sinners, the Pharisees.

 

“Seeing our Blind Spots” John 9:1, 6-9, 13-22, 34-41

After deciding upon today’s sermon title, I googled “blind spot.” I was unaware of an NBC television show by that name. I also didn’t know that Blindspot is a company that produces window coverings, specifically blinds. Merriam Webster offers three definitions (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/blind%20spot). First, a blindspot is an area around a car, truck, etc., that the driver cannot see. The Honda we bought back in September has an area which the rear-view mirror cannot reach; this is called a blindspot. Secondly, a blindspot is a small area at the back of the eye that is not sensitive to light; our peripheral vision becomes limited, because of the way our eye is created, thus preventing us from seeing a certain area. Finally, the tendency to ignore something especially because it is difficult or unpleasant becomes a blindspot for us; I hope that because of today’s sermon, we can see some of our own 
blindspots.

 

“Valuing the Undervalued” Luke 18:15-17

Parent-Child-Church Dedication Service for Nicholas James Ward

I have repeatedly seen the breakdown of the cost of raising a child, but this week I found an article which listed the rewards of raising a child. The government calculated the cost of raising a child from birth to 18 and came up with $160,140 for a middle income family. Talk about sticker shock!? That doesn’t even touch college tuition. But $160,140 isn’t so bad if you break it down. It translates into $8,896.66 a year, $741.38 a month, or $171.08 a week. That’s a mere $24.24 a day! Just over a dollar an hour. Still, you might think the best financial advice is don’t have children if you want to be “rich.”

“Valuing the Undervalued” Luke 18:15-17

Parent-Child-Church Dedication Service for Bailey James Sides

I have repeatedly seen the breakdown of the cost of raising a child, but this week I found an article which listed the rewards of raising a child. The government calculated the cost of raising a child from birth to 18 and came up with $160,140 for a middle income family. Talk about sticker shock!? That doesn’t even touch college tuition. But $160,140 isn’t so bad if you break it down. It translates into $8,896.66 a year, $741.38 a month, or $171.08 a week. That’s a mere $24.24 a day! Just over a dollar an hour. Still, you might think the best financial advice is don’t have children if you want to be “rich.”

“Taking On Rather than Giving Up” Psalm 51:1-17

Ash Wednesday Meditation

What we do on Ash Wednesday in our church is not what most Baptists do on Ash Wednesday. For most Baptists, today is another day on the calendar of following Jesus without any regard as the beginning of the season of Lent. Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent, which is a season of 40 days (plus Sundays) to prepare us for Easter. Christians all over the world have heard or will hear the same scriptures that have been read tonight. Advent prepares us for Christmas; Lent prepares us for Easter. And Easter is the foundation of our faith; without the resurrection, we would serve a dead Jesus instead of a risen Christ. Christianity is the only religion with the claim that its founder rose from the dead; founders of every other religion have died and remained dead. Lent prepares us for the celebration of Easter.

“Reputation Matters” Luke 14:1-14

It is no secret that the Pharisees did not like Jesus. He represented too radical a change for them. They only associated with people like themselves so that they could remain ceremonially clean; if they hung out with the outcasts whom Jesus attracted, they would not be able to participate in Temple rituals.
The word “Pharisee” actually means “separated one,” and they lived up to their name. They separated themselves from outcasts, but also they separated themselves from anyone who didn’t keep the Law as they did. The quest of their religion was to do the right thing and not do the wrong thing. On the surface, we might agree that their quest was noble, but in reality, they placed the keeping of their understanding of the Law to be above everything else. They regularly placed regulations and rules ahead of individuals and their needs.
For Jesus to have such an adversarial relationship with the Pharisees raises questions with this passage from Luke. Why would a leader of the Pharisees invite Jesus into his home, and why would Jesus accept the invitation?

“Today’s Lepers” Mark 1:40-45

In the New Testament, there was no person whom people avoided more than a leper. Although virtually obliterated in industrialized nations today, cases of leprosy continue to be reported in third world countries. As you probably know, the disease is a skin disorder. Ulcerated whelps form on the skin that can also affect the muscular and nervous systems. Mental decay is assured while the end result is usually fatal; it is also highly contagious. The pain from this dreaded disease is excruciating. I don’t know about you but when I am sick, I like to be pampered. If I’m not feeling well, I find comfort in the fact that someone can and does take care of me. Lepers did not enjoy this luxury. The source of their solace was people in the same boat disregarding their own suffering in trying to grant sometimes unreachable serenity.

“Where Would Jesus Go?” John 4:1-15

Years ago, marketers trended with bracelets, bumper stickers, hats, T-shirts, and other items with the letters “WWJD.” The initials represented the question “What Would Jesus Do?” and came from the classic book “In His Steps” by Charles Sheldon, which was first published in 1896. It remains a question which I think we should ask, especially when faced with difficult choices or confounding dilemmas.
Today, I am beginning a sermon series which will hopefully complement the question “What Would Jesus Do?” We have heard today from two members of our Adult Spiritual Formation Team about their recent experiences at the Budget Inn. Among other responsibilities, this group directs “Wednesdays Without Walls,” a monthly opportunity to place faith into action by actually leaving the church campus and doing something for someone else by showing the love of God.

“When to Walk Away” I Samuel 26:17-25; Acts 15:36-41

Most of us do not enjoy conflict. I know some people who avoid conflict at all costs, which of course means sacrificing their own wants, needs, or even identities to “keep the peace.” Conflict is a part of life; it happens at school, at work, in neighborhoods, with families, and even at church. Some people are better at handling conflict than others, because of family conditioning or intentional training. Some are better equipped to address low-level tiers of discord rather than high-level tiers of hostile feuds.
This morning, we have heard two stories from scripture that feature conflicts. We have an idea that in significant relationships that we should be able to solve every problem, overcome every squabble, reconcile every hurt. But some disagreements simply never get reconciled. This morning, I’d like for us to look at these two biblical stories of giants of our faith: David and Paul. David became the greatest king in Israel’s history, and the Apostle Paul became the greatest missionary of all time. To be considered great, they had to make some difficult decisions. Let’s look at their examples.